Good morning! The pension reform is finally going to a vote on the House floor. Meanwhile, a House committee is trimming down the anti-crime bill proposed by Justice Minister Sergio Moro. Mining giant Vale convicted for the first time for dam collapse. 

Pension reform to be voted on by House floor today

Almost five months after being presented to Congress by President Jair Bolsonaro,

the pension reform will finally go to a vote on the House floor today. With the opposition using every tactic in the book to delay proceedings, yesterday&#8217;s sitting pushed past midnight. Lawmakers then voted to end the debate phase—the result, a 353-118 majority, gave hope to supporters of the reform.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A new sitting is set to begin today at 10:30 am, and House Speaker Rodrigo Maia expects the first of two rounds to take place this morning. According to the Brazilian Center of Analysis and Planning, a think tank, there is a &#8220;medium&#8221; chance of the reform passing. As a constitutional amendment, <a href=",placar-da-previdencia-aponta-apoio-de-261-deputados-a-reforma-da-previdencia,70002912677">it needs 308 votes</a> (60% of seats) in two rounds to pass in the House. After that, the Senate must also vote on the reform twice.</span></p> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/484448"></div> <p><script src=""></script></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Proof that the reform&#8217;s approval is anything but a slam-dunk is the fact that the House spent hours yesterday discussing whether or not to regulate the </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">vaquejada</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, a bull-toppling competition in Northeast Brazil. It shows that Speaker Maia wanted to buy time before placing the pension reform atop the agenda. </span></p> <h4>Watering down the reform for support</h4> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In an attempt to lure the evangelical caucus, the government approved even looser tax laws for churches, an amnesty for the debts of rural producers, and lowered the minimum length of service for women from 20 to 15 years. The president also got his way, getting better retirement rules for law enforcement agents. As economy pundit Míriam Leitão wrote: &#8220;The reform saves some money, but doesn&#8217;t correct the pension system&#8217;s problems. Instead, [the concessions made] reinforce them.&#8221;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And let&#8217;s remember that, after the House, a similar fight will be fought in the Senate.</span></p> <hr /> <h2>Trimming down Moro&#8217;s anti-crime bill</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While the House floor began debating the pension reform, a House committee discussed the anti-crime bill proposed earlier this year by Justice Minister Sergio Moro. The group decided, by a narrow 7-6 majority, to discard the possibility of executing jail sentences after a criminal conviction is confirmed by an appeals court.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Until 2016, defendants would only serve time after exhausting all their appeal routes—meaning that wealthier defendants with better lawyers would navigate through the cracks of the legal system for years, sometimes decades, without serving time. In 2016, however, the Supreme Court changed its understanding of the law, and gave the green light for arrests after a single failed appeal. Right now, however, the court seems poised to shift back to its old ways, and could do just that in a trial likely to be held next year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The committee&#8217;s decision is yet another political defeat for Mr. Moro, who left the bench after 22 years to &#8220;pass legislation to crack down on corruption.&#8221; In May, he lost control over the money laundering enforcement agency (Coaf) to the Economy Ministry. Over the past month, the minister has battled accusations of committing illegalities during Operation Car Wash.</span></p> <ul> <li><b>Go deeper: </b><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jair Bolsonaro’s “super ministers” get deflated after just 6 months</span></a></li> </ul> <hr /> <h2>Vale&#8217;s first criminal conviction for Brumadinho</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A state court in Minas Gerais convicted mining giant Vale for the January 25 dam collapse in the city of Brumadinho—which killed 248 people and left 22 missing. The company will be forced to pay compensation, but the amount has yet to be determined, as experts have not finished assessing exactly how much damage was caused.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The judge made certain concessions to Vale, however. While BRL 11bn of the company&#8217;s assets remained frozen, the judged authorized that half of the money be replaced by other financial sureties, such as bank-issued guarantees or investments. He also dismissed motions for the suspension of activities or judicial intervention in Vale, as the company has &#8220;complied&#8221; with requests by regulators following the disaster.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vale faces another three lawsuits in labor courts. In a statement, it &#8220;reiterates its full commitment to fair compensation for damages caused to the victims&#8217; families, the community [of Brumadinho] and the environment.&#8221; The dam collapse spilled the equivalent of roughly 5,200 Olympic-sized pools of iron ore tailings on the surrounding region—reaching forest areas, rivers, and farms.</span></p> <ul> <li><b>Go deeper:</b> <a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brumadinho investigation could lead to murder charge for Vale executives</span></a></li> </ul> <hr /> <h2>Also noteworthy</h2> <p><b>Soft power.</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Rio Governor Wilson Witzel has opened a bureau of representation for his state in Florida, which he deemed &#8220;pivotal&#8221; to develop tourism (Rio receives 2.3m tourists per year). He already plans offices in New York City, California, Paris, London, Lisbon, Berlin, Madrid, and Shanghai. The state has not disclosed how much the new office will cost to the state&#8217;s depleted finances.</span></p> <p><b>Violence. </b><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the Cândido Mendes University, the number of people killed by law enforcement agents in the state of Rio rose by 46% between January and June. After Governor Wilson Witzel took over the state, defending a violent pushback against crime, police operations became more frequent and deadlier. In the city of Rio and Niteroi, almost 40% of killings came at the hands of cops. Researchers say, however, that the police have no effective method to measure if its actions are bearing results.</span></p> <p><b>More Doctors.</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Struggling to find Brazilian doctors willing to work in remote areas, the government is reportedly drafting a bill that would allow Cubans to join the More Doctors Program for two years, after which they would have to revalidate their diplomas in Brazil. After Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s electoral win in October 2018, the Cuban government pulled out of the program, but roughly 2,000 doctors stayed in the country.</span></p> <p><b>Leaks.</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> For one month now, news website </span><a href=""><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Intercept</span></i></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> has been publishing leaked private messages between Operation Car Wash prosecutors and former Judge Sergio Moro—revealing their illegal collaboration on many cases. Yesterday, for the first time, they leaked an audio message. While the content doesn&#8217;t bring new information, it helps attest to the authenticity of the material, which has been called into question by the prosecutors and conservative media.

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BY Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist with experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets.